Man, don’t we all love that feeling of getting into a nice clean bed and knowing that we have hours upon hours to “rest our eyes” and re-energize for the next day. Don’t we also equally HATE when that alarm clock goes off in the morning when we have to wake up. I somewhat experienced that this morning after a night of binge watching Game of Thrones with my girlfriend (mostly the screen watched her as she passed out after the 1st episode, but I’m almost to the end of Season 3 and just saw the The Red Wedding – Unbelievable!) when my alarm clock went off, and I instantly reasoned with myself that I didn’t have enough sleep. It was 5am and I went to bed around 11pm the night before. I usually try to get 6.5 hours each night, so I reset my alarm clock for 6am and then did the usual lay down to see if I could go back to sleep. Usually, if I don’t get right back to sleep within 5 minutes, I get up because I’m generally telling myself I don’t still really need more sleep as opposed to feeling like I do. I closed my eyes for what I felt was 5 minutes when EH EH EH EH! My Iphone went off. I got up to write this morning’s blog feeling a little guilty because I probably should’ve set my alarm for 5:30 instead because the extra 30 minutes were not needed. The reason I felt so guilty about this is because I am a person that truly feels like sleep can be a huge enemy to one’s success. Even though I only slept for 30 minutes longer than I usually do, my mind instantly went to all the different things I could’ve accomplished in those 30 minutes. This led me to think about all the people who consistently indulge in sleep (my mind goes back me when I was 12 and would sleep until noon on the weekends) and how people don’t realize that they are doing such a disservice to themselves in terms of achieving their life goals. There are several main reasons this is true:
YOU’RE ALWAYS GOING TO WANT TO SLEEP MORE
Many people don’t consider themselves morning people, and while I must say I have been lucky to not have this issue as of yet, the reason I think many people have a tough time in the morning is because they have a largely positive affinity for the feeling of sleep. Sleep can be like a drug if we’re not careful because of the positive feeling it gives us when we’re doing it. And like any drug, the decision to indulge in it and allow it control our lives often makes it tougher to overcome with time. This generally leads to a life of mediocrity or no success. Oftentimes, regardless of how much we may have slept, we wake up a little groggy and tired and then we convince ourselves that we need just a “little” more sleep to feel 100%. The problem with this is that we are comparing what we desire to feel at that time (100 alertness and fervor for the day) with how we are currently feeling having just come out of REM (grogginess and a haze). The fallacy with this comparison is that we are very rarely going to naturally wake up WITHOUT that feeling of grogginess when we are so used to sleeping based on what our bodies are telling us. Therefore, to use that as a barometer is like using the feeling of excitement and joy of going to the gym. This excitement for the gym feeling can be developed over time, however, but it doesn’t happen naturally. This often happens after one sees the results of their commitment to go to they gym no matter how they feel. You can do the same with sleep by picking a designated amount of sleep you are going to get and then sticking to that regardless of how you feel when you wake up that morning. Once you start to see the positive results you will experience by waking up earlier and getting more accomplished, you will be excited to start your day to do more. According to WebMD, the average person needs between 6-9 hours of sleep. For each person, however, you have to decide what is the optimal amount for you. I figured this out by decreasing my sleep time tremendously and analyzing my results on those days. Over time, I settled on 6.5 as the optimal amount to feel energized and ready to dominate the day. You have to experiment with yourself a little to figure out what your body actually NEEDS versus what it WANTS because it is different for everyone. While this reason is very important, the next reason should hit home even more when you think about achieving great things in life.
IF YOU’RE NOT GAINING, YOU’RE LOSING
Life is primarily about trade-offs. You can’t spend more time doing one thing without sacrificing that time to do something else. While sleep is necessary physiologically to recharge your natural functions each day, overindulgence only deteriorates your ability to incrementally improve yourself each day. We only have so much time in a day (86,400 seconds to be exact), and how we choose to spend each second of that will be a direct reflection on where we stand in life. When you decide to sleep longer than you should and just “chill” in bed, you are putting yourself at a great disadvantage to those you are competing against who are using that time to improve their abilities in some manner. As with anything, if you are not consciously working to improve your ability or plight in life with each second you have, then you are generally making it worse. By identifying your optimal amount of sleep and sticking to it, you are ensuring yourself that you are not “wasting” any time lying in bed while you could be applying yourself in a number of different ways to continually move the ball in a positive direction. The opportunity cost of oversleeping is huge when you consider the next reason you have to limit the amount of sleep you get.
TIME IS THE ONLY INVESTMENT YOU CANT GET BACK
As have others, I’ve lost a decent amount of money on the stock market. Trying to invest in the next “hot” thing has proven detrimental to my net worth, so I’ve learned to stay the path of incremental gains to ensure the security of my wealth. I still may take a risk here and there when there is a large opportunity for gain with a small, calculated risk. When these investments don’t initially work out, however, I generally don’t freak out because I know that there is time to recover and make up for what I lost. When it comes to the investment of time, however, there is absolutely no way to recover the time you may have lost. And until Doc Brown invents that time-traveling Delorean for Marty McFly, this will always be the case. For that reason, it is ultimately imperative that we spend our time appropriately by doing the things that will continually move us forward versus sleeping. Some of the most famous people in history understood this fact and applied it to their lives by limiting the amount of sleep they had to make sure they were able to get more done and achieve more during their lifetimes. Often, you don’t have to be smarter than others, you just need to be willing to work harder and more to achieve more – something that anyone can do if they commit themselves to it.
Sleep. We all love it. There is nothing better than laying your head down on a Billy D. Williams-like cool pillow and drifting off into Lala land. And while we all may enjoy the dreams of grandiose adventures and success that we may experience while sleeping, if we spend less time do this and more time working, we just might be able to make those dreams come true in real life.